How to Make Money as a Teenager

Interviewer: I'm with Matt Dardening and he started cut short landscaping when he was eleven years old he's nineteen years old and he just purchased out East Ridge Landscaping and he's grossing over one point two million dollars a year, we're going to find out how Matt got started, we're going to look at the journey they got into where he's at right now we're going to share some of that, some of the Matt's best, best things that he's learned over these years.   Matt: We up sale everything Edges exoneration, tree fork, landscape fork . Everything you can think of, we know what our clients will pay, we know what our clients will allow us to do, how far we can push them. I was trading all that money I had  saved up into actual equipment. I was going on a spending spree to the point where my parents actually said if you’re going to live in our house...   Interviewer: Matt, how you doing today buddy?   Matt:`Pretty good, how are you. Interviewer:  I'm good thanks. Matt, now you said you started cut short landscaping when you were eleven but that's not when you really started it was it?   Matt: I started ah; when I was around eight years old. I  got a job from a family friend of mine who owned the nursery. I worked with him on weekends and after school doing tree transplant, installs, running machines around the nursery and a lot of other fun stuff.  I would like to rephrase that for OSA I was Volunteering my services for the educational purposes   Interviewer: But the point is you were gaining valuable experience that you would have gotten otherwise. Right?   Matt: Yes, that is correct.   Interviewer: So you had three years of work underneath your belt when you hit eleven what changed?   Matt:Well, I had some neighbors who were moving away and my family had helped me get a lawn tractor that they had that they did not bring with them and I got two neighbors to let me mow their lawn three weeks after I got the Tractor I went to home Depot and bought a Trimmer and a Bag Pack Blower and Push mower and I just worked that whole summer and on weekends pretty much mowing the grass for several people.   Interviewer: Okay we're going to stop right there Matt cause I want to focus on the fact that in your case you specifically did get financial help from your parents to get started?   Matt: Ah, yes. That would be correct.   Interviewer: Okay and What was that?   Matt: They loaned me two grand to try but I always had to pay back for everything. In order to get the loan, I had to create a case for them, using slides shows and other-other things to prove that they were investing in the initial investment would be returned to them in a rather quick time.   Matt, you're telling me at eleven years old you had to make a slideshow presentation on why you were a safer investment to your own parents?   Matt: Yes! Correct.   Interviewer: A lot of the guys well guys and gals watching this they don't have that ability they don't have anybody to borrow money don't fret there is actually a couple really cool ways that I discovered that you can start a land care landscaping business with absolutely zero dollars and I'm going to make another video later on down the road showing that.   Breaking: I'm going to break in right here because not everybody wants to be in landscaping all of their life and that's fine but you can start out in landscaping and use the money you make and that business to invest in something else down the line now back to your regularly scheduled program.   Interviewer: Well you had two thousand dollars to invest there are ways to start with absolutely nothing now you, have you borrowed any other money along the way because you now have trucks, dump trucks, skid borders, trailers you run multiple crews. Am I  right Matt?   Matt: Yes, when I first got into it  on a large scale probably around seventeen or so my parents helped me buy a Truck and how that work was I had to pay for it but I gave them the money and it was bought I their names and their insurance so that I could get better rates and not be completely killed by insurance costs for the vehicle.   Interviewer: That's a very realistic way to do it so if you have if you are fortunate enough to have parents help you along the way it does make life a lot easier. Although I'm guessing that you would still purchase that truck no matter what you had to do?   Matt: Yeah, that is correct.   Interviewer: Did the business take it an upturn when you were seventeen Matt?   Matt: I did try to keep it small so that I could focus on school work and other things that I knew were important for my future but, right around when I hit sixteen, seventeen years old I got the driver's license. So, I was able to `spread out a little more. That helped so when that turned right around and I got the truck that everything I started to do some more selling to try to fill my whole, pretty much my whole after school calendar and my weekends with all lawn carer work and then when I graduated high school I  completely filled everything and six days of work and  weekends for two hours.   Interviewer: So you started when you were eleven just mowing lawns? Is that you got originally started, Matt?   Matt:  Mowing lawns and weeding then at the end of the summer I purchased a small snowplow for the front of the tractor and plow drivers. Something the viewers should take notes throughout the whole time I tried to save as much money as a possible could in order for later down the road I could invest heavily in the business with the money saved.   Interviewer: Did you leave lawn mower around seventeen years old I started getting more into more landscape?   Matt: Sawing that the years mattered throughout this whole time I tried to save as much money as possibly could in order for later down the road I could invest heavily in the business with the money saved.   Interviewer: For that first year when you were at eleven yours old how much money do you think you made that year.   Matt: Three to Six Grand somewhere around there. Gross.   Interviewer: Okay so three to six grand gross as an eleven-year-old in twelve, thirteen can you kind of run us through how the company grew.   Matt: Well one of the things I've had and is lucky enough that neighborhoods and other people who have a valid need to mow their lawns over the years. Which was nice, especially now my market is completely saturated with people who come in to do business they don’t understand how our prices are so that underbid everything just to get jobs. They don't last very long but they're killing everyone else, so having higher prices as I do it's really hard to get jobs. So it's lucky I have neighbors and everyone else who are willing to pay that money in order to help me out.   Interviewer: Did you think that being eleven, twelve, thirteen years old was more difficult to gain work or was that actually an advantage where people would go oh yeah let's let's help all the eleven year old or twelve year old.   Matt: I'd say it was more difficult mainly because my area the lawns are very large, two to four acres each. Every would think that the eleven year old kid with his mower wouldn't be able to handle on top of that I decided to live  in the smack center of an area that a large company has on complete lock down. So any jobs in their unless you have like an family relation hook or they're like your neighbors or something like that its extremely hard.   Interviewer: So how did you do it?   Matt: I would go around every year, about two to three times a year, knock on all the doors talk to all the neighbors introduce myself and explain that I have a small lawn service and I would be interested in doing there lawn. A lot of the people knew me from growing up and as years went on and they start noticing that I'm in this for the long run they started hiring me more.   Interviewer: I'm guessing that from the age of eleven to seventeen you had almost zero marketing budget. Matt: Oh yes other than flyers and business cards and get off Vista Print I had nothing.   Interviewer: So you saved up every year you were adding end to your pool funds to save up to really cause... and so when it came to turning seventeen and school let out for you you could go all in.   Matt: By the time I hit seventeen, eighteen years old I was turning over the money I had saved up in to actual equipment. I was going on a spending spree to the point were my parents actually said If your going to live in our house you can't to go through us for every purchase you make.   You were going on a spending spree of purchasing equipment? Yes not race cars not go carts not four wheeler?   Matt:  I put all the equipment into the business. I had too crews running and I have all this new equipment, new vacuums, snow plows, tube trucks, tons of leaf blowers , mowers and everything that we could possibly get. I thought that was it going to get through next years it was not an opportunity to purchase a business so this is where i'm going to make my big turn and go all the way.   Interviewe: Your big turn is now you're grossing one point two million a year is an eighteen year old?   Matt: That would be correct. Interviewer: how many crews do you have running right now Matt? Matt: We currently have two crews and were are actually planning on adding another two crews between now and next Friday   Interviewer: The two crew that you have do they do both artscaping, did they do maintenance what does your two crews focus on? Interviewer: A lot of mowing mainly because mowing brings a good deal of money in but, its all so a necessary thing. We have months were we have a hard time selling landscape or artscape jobs , the mowing keeps us going it keeps are guys going and it keeps revenue coming in compared to everything just stops and sits.   Interviewer: So mowing leads to up selling? Matt: We up sale everything Edges exoneration, tree fork, landscape fork . Everything you can think of, we know what our clients will pay, we know what our clients will allow us to do, how far we can push them and we even know our clients on name basis so if we go to a yard, we're like 'how are you Mr and Mrs Smith, how are your kids doing at colleges, hows the new car and all this other stuff . This really helps us to sale more because the clients feel a more personal way, a personal connection between us and our clients. We are not just a company, we are more, I want to say family or something, more like partners.     Interviewer: A partner and their property.   Matt: Thank you, that's a good way to phrase it. Interviewer: Matt, you just hit the nail on the head to success. I can't tell you how important making that connection is in fact with my own crew leaders I tell them every day spend twenty minutes with a customer and they look at me I do a hardscaping bigger jobs they look at me and I would look at that as an investment into that project not a waste of time.   Matt: And our crew leaders do that same thing too, when I actually first took over the company  and sent out a letter of previous owner of emerging companies.A lot of customers called us and asked  "hey  are these guys staying on, is this guy staying on" and we said yes to everything. When I purchase the company , my biggest thing was keep all the guys on, keep all the accounts we can and we even still have the owner on payroll work as a manager with us for the next two years so that there could be a nice smooth transition. The clients weren't really notice it because he will slowly get out and I will slowly come in.   Interviewer: Nice good strategy Matt, You have a lot of guys out here,  lot of gals  looking at a seven year business. You've done it now your nineteen your doing one point two million what kind of advice would you give them just getting started?   Matt: Number one quality over quantity any day. You got a good work if you’re just going out there and as getting many yards as you can and try to cheap for her. You are not really going to get anywhere you’re just going to shoot yourself in the foot and go get stuck in a kind of rotation where every year you’re a kind of stuck in the same thing you can’t really grow but you can’t get any smaller and eventually you get to a point where you are spending so much  money. You need all of this new equipment in order to stay the size you are or get bigger but you’re not bringing that much money in and then you will go out of business. So first is definitely make sure you have your quality down have correct prices on that quality because we are some yards I think I showed you or sent you a picture of it of a yard we do and I got the most smallest yard, It we literally 4 by 4 box flats guys come in and they just trim that little thing and blow off to drive down your road. And that’s it we we’re charging 50 bucks for that and we’re doing that because the time it takes us to get all the guys in the truck, drive the truck there do that little section and drive to the next thing is time and money and then to add to that that you have to know all your numbers, that’s the second biggest one when we do bids for simple lawns bids for huge landscape jobs. We have everyone of our numbers all the number are including workers comp or insurance or simple truck insurance. How much is it going to cost for a truck to sit on that job? Every little thing that’s going through that job is put into that bid and that so we don’t loose any money on some. You know guys that come up and water on the yard and I'll go 50 bucks and they don’t know how long that’s going to take them and I have a decent idea don’t know and that’s the issue you have you got to every one of your numbers and having them down pat. I got charts in the offices, all the guys go out pricing jobs, binders and they have charts and binders that show how much each piece of equipment down to a shuvlle cost on a job through wear and tear insurance, maintenance and all that stuff is added in. So we’re not loosing money. We also have good relationships with our nurseries, our suppliers  for everything and that way we buy somewhat from certain one place or two places that they just end up giving us rates on stuff.   Interviewer: Matt absolutely rock solid advice. I’m very impressed, everything that you said. Are thing that I scream over and over again quality over quantity. When you have when you focus on quality your margins are also higher so I want to say thank you for all of your advice, appreciate it. You also have Youtube channel these guys want to know from you. Go and check out Matt’s YouTube channel E R Landscaping. Is that right Matt??   Matt: Yes, That is correct  


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